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Fun design work April 13, 2007

Posted by Jesse in : Uncategorized , trackback

Game design was never more fun for me than when I was in elementary school. My friends and I would constantly pass back and forth our level designs for Ghosts ‘N Goblins and Castlevania. (I’m sure our teachers found it quite annoying.) It’s hard for me to imagine the huge number of hours we spent on those drawings. My friend’s mom even helped us find mailing addresses for Capcom and Konami in our Nintendo game manuals, and we mailed our levels off to the companies. It seems most likely to me that they were just quickly discarded, but it’s nice to think that they might have been forwarded on to the original Japanese developers along with other fan mail. Those were fun times.

And I got a small taste of that feeling again a few days ago. I’ve been mulling ideas for what kind of game I could write to enter the MyDreamRPG contest and I think I’ve come up with something pretty neat. It’s a platformer with lots of rpg elements. And just like twenty years ago, I’ve gotten swept away doodling up maps, writing stories, and coming up with special powers for my imaginary heroes.

Here’s the basic story:

The player (Michael, a young boy) starts out in a very small farming village, called Littlefield. It’s a quiet, peaceful place, but strange things have started happening in the area recently. (Cattle vanishing in the night, strange shadows seen moving around in the nearby forest, etc.) When Michael ventures into a cave at the edge of town, he finds a wounded knight. The knight was wounded in battle, and is near death. He tells Michael a story about a necklace amulet that has belongs to the royal family, and has been passed down from one king to another.

He then tells Michael of the king’s caravan being ambushed. When it seemed that they might be captured, the king sent the knight off with the amulet, to prevent it from ending up in the wrong hands. He was attacked, and gravely wounded. And now the knight is dying, and the only person around is Michael. He gives him the amulet, asking him to protect it. Then he dies.

Michael puts on the necklace. Immediately he hears the voice of the knight. It turns out that the amulet is very powerful indeed. It allows a nearby spirit to stay in this world, instead of passing into the afterlife. The spirit is able to live on for a time in the amulet. This explains the king having access to knowledge from kings who have come before. Other than the knight, however, the amulet seems empty. Now that Michael is able to access the knight’s fighting ability, they agree to venture forth and see if the king still lives.

During their travels, three other spirits will move into the amulet. A wizard, a priest, and a rogue. Each will have special abilities, and the player can switch between them easily.

Some gameplay info:

My initial design will be for the XBox 360 gamepad, as I’m planning to use Torque X as the underlying engine/framework. I’ll have to find input mappings that make sense for a keyboard (and possibly mouse too), but I’m ignoring them for now. (Platformers are pretty difficult to play without a gamepad, anyway.)

Controls:
Character movement is based on the left analog stick or d-pad.
Character selection is done by holding the right shoulder trigger, which will pause the gameplay, then you pick one of the four characters by pressing up, left, right, or down, and the releasing the right trigger.
Basic actions and special abilities can be mapped to any of the buttons A, B, X, or Y. Additionally, holding the left shoulder trigger and pressing A, B, X, or Y, will give a second bank of abilities for a total of eight immediately accessible abilities.
Each character can gain a special ability that is used while in midair. (Either by jumping from the ground, or falling from a platform.) While in midair pressing jump will activate the special ability. While you can only use each special ability once during a jump, you can switch characters in midair and chain each of the four characters special jump abilities, if you’ve unlocked them.

From a menu, the player will be able to travel instantly to any city they’ve visited. A wizard spell can allow them to teleport directly to other places.

The player will have both a health bar, and an energy bar. Taking damage reduces the health bar, and when it is empty, the player dies. (Either they’ll appear at a visited city, perhaps with a penalty of some sort, or they’ll have to load a saved game.) The energy bar is used for special abilities. All the characters share the health and energy bars.

The player will also have an experience bar. When you’ve killed enemies or finished quests, you’ll gain experience points that fill the bar. When the bar is full, you’ll gain a level that you can assign to any character. (Only the ones you’ve have at that point, however.) My current thinking is that you’ll gain a special ability with every two levels in each class, though I’m not entirely sure about that yet. You’ll start off with one ability, just by having that character around. All of the special jump abilities will be the first ability gained after that.

There will be a simple stat system, with the player able to gain strength, stamina, speed, and focus. (Those map to melee damage, health points, movement and attack speed, and energy points.) All of the characters will share the same stats. The player gets points each level to customize the character however they want.

Class special abilities:

Knight
0 – Energy strike – Use energy to perform a powerful sword strike.
1 – Air Drop – Drop from above to stun nearby enemies, and break through damaged floors. (No energy cost.)
2 – Charge – Rush forward, damaging enemies.
3 – Blood Rage – Convert some health into energy. (But not at a very good exchange rate.)
4 – Bestial Roar – Intimidate (stun) all nearby enemies for a short time, or until they take damage
5 – Obliterate – Converts all energy into a very damaging strike. (Uses no energy on a missed attack.)

Priest
0 – Heal – Use energy to heal.
1 – Levitate – Float at the same elevation until releasing the jump button. (You can walk while floating.)
2 – Energy Guard – Lose energy instead of health upon taking damage.
3 – Haste – Movement and attack speed greatly increased, for a short time.
4 – Regenerate – Regenerate hit points over time for a short duration.
5 – Holy Mark – Temporary invulnerability (very high energy cost)

Wizard
0 – Blast – Low damage energy projectile
1 – Slow Fall – Fall more gracefully down, while holding the jump button.
2 – Fireball – Explosive area of effect energy projectile.
3 – Snow Blast – Damage a single target, but causes many enemies in the area to be move slowly.
4 – Teleport – Teleport immediately to any known area.
5 – Poison – High damage over time to enemies near the player. (Moderately high energy cost.)

Rogue
0 – Hide – Blend into the surrounding environment. Move slowly while hiding. Can only be done when not seen by a hostile enemy.
1 – Double jump – Can jump a second time while in midair.
2 – Disguise – Wear a disguise that will fool enemies. Uses energy until disabled.
3 – Lock pick – Can pick door and chest locks.
4 – Smoke bomb – Vanish from view, even when seen by hostile enemies. (Moderately high energy cost.)
5 – Assassinate – Massive damage dagger strike, must be hiding to use. (High energy cost.)

Comments»

1. Share Quotes - December 1, 2010

some energy bars are just too sweet for my own taste. is there a sugar free energy bar? -,-